Build Your Own Survival Home from Mud, Straw, Grass and Mud

How to build a survival home from cob yes, cob the ancient bricks made from mud, straw, and grass that the Romans used.

Step 1: The first element in the cob equation is mud. High quality mud is essential if you want to make the good stuff, and the best mud has a high concentration of clay. How to determine the good mud from the bad and the ugly you ask? Well, that’s relatively easy: if you make a ball from the potential dirt  which retains its initial shape, that’s the droid you’re looking for (yes, I am a big Star Wars fan). You’ve struck gold, and you can go fill a bucket (or more if you’re planning something big) with this mud.

Step 2: You must harvest/gather a respectable armload of straw or dry grasses and  cut them into lengths of six to twelve inches.

Step 3: Next, you must add water to your clay in order to hydrate it enough to a point/density where it will squish relatively easily through your fingers. Don’t hydrate it too much though; the ideal consistency is if you can mold it and it still hold its shape.

The stuff must not be so watery that it will run through your fingers. You just have to homogenize it pretty well. If you want to use the survival cement as a mortar for a stone-made construction, you should strive for a wetter mix; if you’re looking for building bricks or a solid structure made of cob, go for a firmer mixture.

Step 4: You should spread something like a tarp on the ground and put the bucket of homogenized mud and the cut grass/straw at the edges.

Step 5: In the next phase, you must dump the mud from the bucket in the middle of the tarp and put about half of the straw/grass on the top (step five, but who’s counting anyway?).

Step 6: In the next step you must fold a corner of the tarp over the top and stomp it pretty well if you’re barefoot or begin to directly stomp the straws into the mud if you don’t have a problem with getting dirty.

Step 7: Next, after you’ve danced around a bit and the mixture isflattened and spread out, step off the tarp then fold it in half, thus turning the mixture back onto itself. You should repeat the procedure at least 2-3 times until you form something in the shape of a ball. Then, you must add the remaining strawor grass progressively and start stomping again, until the remaining grass homogenizes with the mud thoroughly.  As a general rule of thumb, the optimum grass/mud ratio is somewhere between forty and sixty percent grass, depending on the type of the structure you want to build.

Step 8: The last step is to start your survival cement project as soon as possible. Don’t let the cob sit to dry out because the mud will harden and it’s going to be very difficult to get it into your desired shape or form. Basically, you can start building bricks with the cob/survival cement and you can repeat the aforementioned procedure until you have enough (bricks or whatever you’re doing).

If you have to add water to help with the re-hydration of the mud, keep in mind to add a little at a time, to avoid making the cob soupy and thus unusable. It’s way simpler to make the cob a little wetter than to regain its original consistency by adding mud/straw.

If you want to build tougher cob, remember to place the grasses or straw parallel to each other for creating a re-bar like effect, making for a stronger building material.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, below’s a video-tutorial in high-definition about how to make survival cement/cob using natural building materials, step by step. The most important thing in the process is to learn how to disseminate good mud/clay from bad, since mud is the main building block in the recipe of high quality survival cement. If you got that part figured out, the rest is easy as pie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Preppers: Food Grade IBC Container for Aquaponics

aquaponics

 

We found our food grade IBC containers.  Our next big project will be aquaponics.  We could also use this to collect extra water and attach a rain saucer on it to collect clean water.  The possibilities are limitless.  But what we are thinking we will start a fish pond and raise our own fish and use the top surface to grow our garden.  Everything will work synergistically to keep it clean and healthy.  The vegetables will add oxygen to the water and the fish will add natural fertilizer so it all works synergistically together.

Here is the possibility of collecting fresh rainwater.  My mind is racing with all the endless possibilities.

You know to survive we need to get smart and quit taking things for granted and go back to nature.  I think Israel was a great example of this they turned a dry thirsty desert land into the Promised Land, and now everyone once a piece of that land.  We need to look and observe how other countries have survived and follow their footsteps and not be too proud but humble ourselves and work with our, God-given hands.

I married a man who graduated with a degree in Forestry so he knows botany and how to survive.  He always comes up with projects for outside, and he owns a landscaping business too.  He works the right side of the brain and I switch to the creative side. So between the two of us, we make a good team.

rain-saucer-with-ibc-container

 

aquaponics1

Follow us at http://iheartamerica.me as we teach you how to survive in an Apocalyptic world.

Preppers: Nordica Wood Burning Stove

 

wood-burning-stove

I did a lot of research before finding the perfect cast iron wood stove. I wanted something that was versatile where I could cook on top of the stove to baking bread or a turkey inside of the oven, and I found just what I wanted.the Nordica Wood Burning Stove. The Nordica is a cast iron stove and oven encased in ceramic. So it’s safe for small kids and pets. The outside of it doesn’t get hot only the top part.

nordica-wood-burning-stove

 

I love the extra storage space and color of the Nordica and it takes small split logs to keep the fire going and it shows you the temperature.  I love it! Yes, I would buy if again!

Preppers: Harvest Right Freeze Dryer Pros and Cons

harvest-right

The Harvest Right Freeze Dyer it will do 8 to 12 lbs per cycle. Freeze drying time is variable depending on what you’re drying.  Scrambled eggs 40 hours and meats about 24 hours because they have less water.  The less water, the less time it takes to freeze dry. However, keeping the pump working is the difficult part.  You have to clean the oil after every use. So if you buy this freeze dryer ask them about the oil filtering system through another company.  We bought this and we had to have the pump repaired after a few weeks because it blew the rear seal. We found out that water is the worst enemy for pump oil. The pump oil is expensive so learning how to filter it can save a lot of money.  I wouldn’t  suggest buying this unless you are serious about preparing a lot of food in advance.  It’s not meant for using just once a month. To make it economical you have to be prepared to cook a lot of food.  All meats must be cooked before putting it in the freeze dryer. The trays are easy to clean and the time is preset but you can also customize it.  It also has three cycles, freeze cycle, the drying cycle which is controlled by a sensor, and the final dry time. The freeze cycle and drying time you can customize, and the defrost cycle we recommend doing each time because it accumulates a lot of ice. Yes, he would buy it again but we are serious about prepping. Me, no! it has too many problems but it’s the only thing out on the market at this time.  You decide!  I would like to know if there’s anyone else out there with the same problems that we have, if so, please leave a comment.

You can see the water built up around the oil. If you don’t keep it clean you could have real problems.  We have it sitting on a wood table on a wood floor, if it was on carpet it would ruin it.harvest-right-oil-and-water

We’re getting ready to freeze dry yogurt.  The Harvest Freeze Dryer comes with four shelves. Ours will do around 8 to 12 lbs at a time.  We had a problem doing the yogurt the pump couldn’t Vacuum and the yogurt exploded inside.

Pros: You can freeze dry 8 to 12 lbs of food at a time.

CONS: Water builds up in the vacuum pump.

CONS: Send it back, they ask for the pump only and don’t replace it, and you have to pay for the shipping back to them which is around $35.00 to$ 40.00.

CONS: Poor Customer Service.

If you pay over 3,000.00 you expect good customer service, no excuse!

It has a one year warranty but not replacement warranty. You ship it, they fix it, and they pay for the shipping back to you.

I really feel for the price you pay you should get good customer service.   This seems to be one thing lacking in a lot of businesses anymore, once they get your money, you’re on your own.

 

freeze-drying-yogurt

 

 

harvest-right-with-pump

 

This freeze dryer needs some room so think about where you are going to put it.  You have to have room for the pump that stands out and the drain system.  I thought this was going to be something like a freezer where you plugged it in and that was it, not so!

 

harvest-right-drain

 

So you see, what we are talking about when it comes to the operation of the Harvest Right you need plenty of room for the pump and the drain.  We thought we were going to be able to fit this right into the kitchen, not so, we had to put it in the back bedroom.  Another thing about this freeze dryer, expect that area of the house to be a lot warmer than the rest of the house. It also makes a lot of noise when operating.  It took our kids a while to get use to the loud sound of the freeze dryer, and adjust.  The heat they could tolerate in the winter, but I’m not sure about the summer months.  It will probably cost extra on the air conditioning bill because the way it heats up that area of the house!  These are the things to prepare for.  Let us know what you think, and share your comments.  The advertisement really makes it look easy to operate and function.  I really wouldn’t have paid extra for the color of it if I would have known it was going to be hidden in the back room.  This is our Harvest Right Freeze Dryer.  I hope others are having better luck with theirs than we are.

Wednesday, March 1, My husband says the problems he had last night with the yogurt was his fault. He did a vacuum check with unfrozen items in there. very liquid items, that exploded.

The resolution was cleaning it out and he failed to check the vacuum hose connections, he assumed that they stayed tight, through use, the hoses can come loose and need to be checked periodically.  Harvest Right was very helpful in giving him technical support.

Thursday, March 2, You can hear the noise. We’re still working on that yougurt freeze drying.

 

Friday, March 3, It’s complete!

yogurt-ready

 

The yogurt was a success! Yay!  Now, I will take it out of the freeze dryer and store it in Mylar Bags.  The freeze dryer takes all the moisture out of the yogurt so it will be like a powder.

 

complete

This is what you wait to see, you know when you see this that it’s ready to place in Mylar Bags.

 

freeze-dried-yogurtI will use what was left in the trays and sprinkle it over my fresh fruit.  Yum! It took 16 hours to complete tghe process now the Harvest Right Freeze Dryer will go into defrost mode.

If you look inside of the freeze dryer you will notice the ice build up on each side, this is why you have to defrost it, and also why, I wouldn’t place the Harvest Right Freeze Dryer on carpet flooring.  Now you see why there’s a drain tube.

I have to admit there are things you can do with the freeze dryer that you can’t do canning. And if you lose your electricity you still have the luxury of yogurt or ice cream and your favorite foods.  You just add moisture back into it and it’s like fresh food.

 

Preppers: Laundry Tubs and IBC Container To Collect Rainwater

steel-tub

 

The one thing that everyone will need when all hell breaks loose is a way to do their laundry.  Fortunately, I got a quick lesson when I went to Africa for 5 weeks and saw how they did my laundry.  It was a real eye-opener.  As soon as I got back to the states, I told my husband we need to get some of these galvanized steel tubs to do our laundry and he agreed.  You will need at least 2 of these tubs one for washing and one for rinsing. Here, they used three one for colors and whites and one for rinsing.  It would probably be wise to start stocking up on laundry soap too.  In Africa, they used an IBC container to collect rainwater and added a water-spout to turn the water off and on as they needed it.You need a food grade container to collect water.  With a little research, you can find these IBC containers.  You can also use these containers for an aquatic fish farm or aquaponics.

laundry-in-africa1

Preppers: Shortwave Radio: Our Pick

I’ve  been thinking about this recently if all hell broke loose I would want to know what’s happening and if it’s coming near us.  So I thought we better think about getting a shortwave radio to stay informed.  I’m one of those since 9-11 if I don’t know what’s going on I get nervous.  What happened on 9-11 was a wake-up call for me and my family.  I did some research and it looks like the Eton measures up to be the premium shortwave radio on the market.  The thought of and EMP has us preparing for the worst.  Now to protect this shortwave radio from an EMP we will need to make a Faraday that will protect our electronics.  I did more research on this and it looks like it’s fairly simple to make a Faraday with a galvanized steel trash can styrofoam but make sure you remove all the screws and bolts from the lids.  My husband says we need walkie talkies too.

We found the Eton at Amazon for $321.53

eton

Grundig Edition Satellit 750

The Classic, Clear-Sounding AM/FM/LW/Shortwave with Single Side Band (SSB) and VHF Radio

Decades Of Excellence:

With over 7 decades of Grundig heritage and quality engineering, the Satellit 750 delivers the same excellence with its radio reception and audio quality. It has the classic looks and styles to match its outstanding performance. When you want a listen-to-it-all radio, the Satellit 750 is the radio for you with broadcasts in every radio wavelength – AM, FM, LW, SW, SSB, and VHF aircraft band frequencies. The 360° rotating AM antenna pulls in even the weakest of signals for full, bold sound. Plus, DSP technology enhances tuning sensitivity and fields out interference. You have direct access to news and music from all over the world and can program up to 1000 channels so you can tune in with ease.

We received the Eton Grunding Shortwave Radio today, we were very impressed with the sound and clarity it automatically picked up a radio station that was at least a 100 miles away without adding an additional antenna. We will keep you updated as we run more test on it to see if it does everything it says it will do. The sound is clear and clean no static at all!  So far, it’s a winner! If you have one or are interested leave your comments. And let us know what kind of survival equipment you recommend for preppers.

eton-out-of-box

eton-listening

 

 

 

Our second choice was the Tecsun Shortwave Radio

Cost: $139.99

 

tescan1

 

 

 

 

 

Preppers: Water Purification

clean-water

We all need water to survive, but what do you do when the shtf?

Iodine Tincture

5 drops per quart.
20 drops per gallon.
Wait 30 minutes.
Quick simple method for hikers.
Advisable not to use this method for more than a few days in a row.
Do your due-diligence regarding choosing methods of water purification.

UV light

Clear plastic water bottle, 2 liters or less.
Direct sunlight for 6 hours (clear water).
Several days if the sun is clouded.
Yes, this really works…
UV-pen and other portable UV methods – require batteries.

Purification Tablets

1 or 2 tablets per quart.
Follow instructions on package.
Easy for hikers.

Reverse Osmosis (RO)

Requires equipment.
Requires a head of pressure in the supply line.
Very pure water output.

Gravity Filter

e.g. Big Berkey.
Capacities from one to several gallons.
Filters thousands of gallons.
Quality filter will last a very long time.

 

Source:  http://modernsurvivalblog.com/preps/water-sources-and-treatment/

 

http://www.mypatriotsupply.com/articles.asp?ID=396&Click=289692

Preppers: How To Survive an EMP Attack

The biggest question for many Americans is how do I survive an EMP attack and what will work in the event there is one?  How will I survive?  What is an EMP attack?  I hear so many talking about it but I really don’t understand what it is.  I think this will answer your questions and how you can survive in the event of an EMP attack.

by Ray – How to survive an EMP attack

EMP, or Electromagnetic Pulse Attack. Most of us have heard of it, some of us understand what it is and what it does, and those who have read “One Second After” have an idea of what will happen if we are attacked with it. Some additional info can be found at here.

The U.S. Government created a commission to study EMP and what it could do to the safety and security of the United States. Unfortunately, this Committee published its report the same day as the 911 Commission, so it didn’t get much news coverage. You can read the report at http://www.empcommission.org. The bottom line in the report is that it is not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’ we will be hit.

EMP will take out just about everything electronic, whether it is connected to the grid or sitting unplugged on the kitchen counter. Things connected to the grid may fry from the 100,000 volt surge brought in through the power distribution lines.

Electronics with transistors or integrated circuits are extremely sensitive to static electricity and can be destroyed by as little as 100 volts. Walking across a carpet and sparking to that door know is well over 1000 volts. The surge created by the EMP in your electronic device will be sufficient to destroy them if they are not protected.

One of the committee members likened EMP to a time machine, transporting our society from ‘today’ to ‘1870’ in about one second. We become, once again, an agrarian society, capable of supporting the level of population that we had in 1870. This means that there will be a lot of Americans dying.

Our goal, your goal, is to be among the survivors. There are many things that need to be done to prepare: learning survival skills, having land and gardening/preserving knowledge, and many other things.

Having communications and some of the gadgets survive could mean the difference between surviving and not surviving. Things like solar battery chargers, batteries, inverters, ignition systems for chain saws, critical farm equipment electronics, walkie-talkies, NV gear among others could be critical when the time comes.

What is EMP?

When a nuclear bomb is exploded above the atmosphere, it releases gamma rays in all directions. The ones that head towards the atmosphere strike air molecules and strip off electrons.

Those electrons and gamma rays head towards Earth, stripping, even more, electrons. This avalanche of electrons called the Compton Effect, interact with the Earth’s electromagnetic field, creating very strong magnetic waves.

When a magnetic field crosses a conductor, electrical current is produced. When this EMP magnetic wave crosses power lines, electronic equipment, anything conductive, current is produced. Enough current could be produced to create fires, exploding transformers, extremely high voltage (current pushing through resistance results in voltage) which can break down insulation and create arcing and short circuits.

In 1962 the US detonated a 1.4 megaton bomb over one of the test sites in the Pacific. It was high enough that the island of Hawaii, 900 miles away, had 300 street lights go out, and some microwave links were damaged.

Hours after the detonation there were still surges and ripples in the power system. That was when we used vacuum tubes and before transistorized equipment was on the market. Today, with microcircuits and all of the very high tech equipment that we have in our homes, our factories and our defenses, we are more vulnerable than ever.

The U.S. Senate recently stripped funds for hardening the country’s power grid against EMP from a homeland security bill.

We are on our own.

What can be harmed?

Will EMP harm you? You, the human, will be safe. Magnetic waves, even very strong ones, will not harm you. MRIs use strong magnetic waves to make images of your innards.

But, look around you at anything with a wire or a chip. Whatever you see, be it toaster, TV, laptop, microwave oven, radio, chainsaw, car, or truck, it is vulnerable, and the higher the technology the more vulnerable.

WSHTF you won’t need a TV, but you will need a radio, perhaps walkie-talkies, probably solar battery chargers, that ignition coil on your chainsaw, maybe that night vision scope and whatever else you deem necessary for your survival. EMP won’t hurt you, but it may take away every electronic device that you own.

If you are part of a group, you might consider building a larger box and sharing it, and the cost.

What can I do?

One way to protect your gear is to build a Faraday Shielded Box and keep your stuff in it. A faraday shield is simply a physical device that prevents electromagnetic radiation from passing, in or out. In our case, we’ll take a cardboard box, cover it with copper screening material, and then ground it well.

I’ll describe the one that I built and you can size it up or down as you think necessary. Copper screen material with wire spacing of 0.1” is needed, and is the most expensive part of the project. You can keep costs down by only making as big a box as necessary. But when you think of the cost, think of the cost of the items that you will be protecting and what it might cost you if they don’t make it.

I started with a 2’ x 2’ x 3’ cardboard box. I actually had two of them. I cut the top flaps off of one, and cut up the other to bend and fold a lid like a hat box, with about 2” of side overlap. I wanted a loose fitting top, with plenty of overlap on the sides. You don’t want any holes or gaps in the copper shielding, which is why I put the 2” flap on the lid for the box.

I laid out the screen coverage to minimize the number of lapped joints, cut the screen and used spots of hot melt glue to hold the pieces in place. I folded the screen around lips and edges, cut and tucked it into corners, and then used a very hot (150 W) soldering iron to solder all of the lap joints and corners. On the lid, not only cover the outside but fold the screen into the underside for the side overlaps. You don’t want any missed areas of coverage of the screen.

Next, take a piece of bare #10 AWG or #12 AWG (house wiring Romex) and strip off the insulation. Form it into a loop with a pigtail. Now make a second one. Lay one on one side flap of the lid and solder the pigtail to the screen. Put the lid on the box and solder the other loop to the main box a couple of inches below the pigtail loop on the lid.

Your box is ready. Find an out of the way place where it can stay undisturbed. From the box, run a copper wire (#10 AWG) outside the house to a ground rod. You can use a ground rod of copper or galvanized steel, or you can get 10’ of ½” galvanized pipe. Drive it into the ground at least 8’, attach the copper wire to the clamp, and make sure that you always have the box and lid connected to the ground wire. At the box end of the wire, use alligator clips to conned the main wire to one of the pigtails and then make a short jumper between the two pigtails.

I haven’t finished stocking mine, but my list includes: night vision goggles, IR laser sight for the rifle, game camera, batteries, crank emergency radio, walkie-talkies, solar battery charger, 12V to 110 VAC inverter, ignition coil for the chainsaw and an alternator for the tractor.

EMP is a complex subject with lots of contradictory information available – agree or dissagree I’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments below as well as your tips and advice.

Source:

The Suvivalist Blog

 emp-attack

Preppers: How To Make your Own Gun Powder

making-your-own-gun-powder

 

 

You can’t defend yourself with a gun if you don’t have bullets, and you can’t make bullets if you don’t have gunpowder. That’s why knowing how to make your own gunpowder could be the difference between life and death, should there every come a day where the foundation of our country is ripped out from underneath us.

There are three ingredients needed to produce gunpowder – 75% potassium nitrate, 15% charcoal and 10% sulfur, in terms of weight ratio. While the actual mixing process is fairly simplistic, actually acquiring each of these ingredients can be a bit tricky. Charcoal, the easiest of the three ingredients to obtain, can be made from willow, soft pine, western cedar and cottonwood trees. Obtaining sulfur can be a bit more difficult, especially in a post-societal scenario. If you are unable to get your hands on it, you have one of two options: you can either substitute it with iron-oxide (rust) or you can exclude it altogether by mixing the potassium nitrate and charcoal together at an 80:20 ratio.

The most challenging of the ingredients to find is potassium nitrate because the only natural source is found inside of bat guano. If you are unable to obtain that, there are other ways to produce it yourself, but that takes months. One such way involves using a metal drum with a drainage valve near the bottom. A screen mesh is placed inside, where manure, water and urine are dumped, mixed, and then sealed for ten months. When you drain the water almost one year later, it will dry and form potassium nitrate crystals.

Regardless of how you acquire each of these ingredients, let’s assume that you are able to get them and you are ready to start the actual production.

Unless you want to see your fingers blown off in an explosion, it is advised that you grind up each of these ingredients separately before mixing them together. Also, don’t let any sparks or open flames anywhere near the ingredients. It may be common sense to most, but it’s important to note anyway.

Next, in order to minimize the risk of an explosion, mix each of the ingredients with a bit of water so that a dough-like material is produced. Once they are in this state, it is safe to grind them together using a mortar and pestle. Press the material into one solid mass and grind it up again into small pellets, then voila! You have homemade gunpowder. (RELATED: Learn how to make all-natural acorn flour for self-reliance).

No one said it would be easy, but if you are in a real survival situation living off the grid, you need to do what you need to do. Having your own stash of gunpowder in such a scenario would put you at a significant advantage, and give you the edge needed to defend yourself and your loved ones.

Sources

UrbanSurvivalSite.com
BioPrepper.com

It’s Time To Create Megacities Combat Unit

megacity

 

Every year, more and more of the world’s population moves into cities. The number of megacities is growing exponentially. Both of these global patterns and their inevitable consequences for military operations are well documented. Yet we still do not have units that are even remotely prepared to operate in megacities. If we want to find success on the urban battlefields the US Army will inevitably find itself fighting on in the future, that needs to change.

Throughout history, military forces either sought to avoid or simply had no need to engage in urban combat. Most military doctrine, and the strategic theory it is built upon, encourages land forces to bypass, lay siege to, or—if required—isolate and slowly clear cities from the outside in. The great armies of the world have historically fought for cities rather than in cities, a distinction with a significant difference. In cases where military forces had no choice but to operate within cities, the environment, almost without exception, proved very costly in both military and civilian casualties. Today, many armies have accepted that global population growth and urbanization trends will increasingly force military operations into crowded cities, and military forces must, therefore, be capable of conducting the full range of operations in large, dense urban areas. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley recently remarked that the Army “has been designed, manned, trained and equipped for the last 241 years to operate primarily in rural areas.” But that is about to change. Milley continued:

In the future, I can say with very high degrees of confidence, the American Army is probably going to be fighting in urban areas. . . . We need to man, organize, train and equip the force for operations in urban areas, highly dense urban areas, and that’s a different construct. We’re not organized like that right now.

But despite the clear recognition that armed forces will increasingly be required to fight in urban areas, no army has committed to train, organize, and equip forces specifically to operate in cities. It is time for the US Army to do just that.

A 2016 United Nations report estimated 54.5 percent of the world’s population lived in urban areas. By 2030, that percentage is projected to rise to 60 percent. As a result of this rural-to-urban migration, cities themselves are growing. In 2016, there were 512 cities with at least one million inhabitants globally. By 2030, a projected 662 cities will have at least one million residents. And the number of “megacities” in the world—those with ten million residents or more—is projected to grow from thirty-one to forty-one in the same period.

In 2014, the chief of staff of the Army’s Strategic Studies Group (SSG) chose megacities to be the organizing theme for its yearlong research projects. Concept teams looked at the unique characteristics and challenges of a megacity, future maneuver and mobility concepts, Army force design considerations, personnel talent management, and other topics, assessing the requirements for operating in megacities. The conclusions of the SSG research are clear: megacities are unavoidable, they are potentially the most challenging environment the Army has ever faced, and the Army is unprepared to operate in them. The SSG also recommended that the Army, charged with the mandate of preparing forces for sustained operations on land, take the lead in training, organizing, and equipping forces for megacities.

As William Adamson noted in his 2015 Parameters article, “Megacities and the US Army,” the research conducted by the SSG was not the first to take a long and hard look at the challenges of large urban areas. Adamson highlighted a 2000 Government Accounting Office report, which noted that “despite a growing unease that the urban environment is a known vulnerability of US forces, DoD has not made a major commitment to dramatically improve urban capabilities.” Shortly after this, the 2001 Defense Planning Guidance commissioned a study and eighteen-month project that resulted in the Joint Urban Operations (JUO) Master Plan 2012–2017.

Interest in the megacities problem did not stop after the SSG study. The Army’s 2014 Unified Quest war games included megacities scenarios in its study of future operational environments. The US Army Training and Doctrine Command’s Mad Scientist project continues to look at technological solutions to the challenges posed by megacities. Multiple organizations and agencies continue to assess the Army’s capabilities gaps through the standard Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership, Personnel Facilities, and Policy (DOTMLPF-P) framework.

But despite all of this study, no change has been made to the Army of today to prepare for tomorrow’s operations in megacities—a tomorrow that could be here very soon.

One ongoing military study of megacities is the NATO Urbanization Project. Initiated in 2014, it is a conceptual study of potential crisis situations in urban systems, consequences of urbanization, and the impact on NATO military operations. The project includes seventeen NATO nations, sixteen NATO Centers of Excellence, and representatives of academia and industry.

In the project’s most recent experiment, the NATO team conducted a war game to determine the capabilities needed to achieve the goals of three likely missions in 2035: response to mass migration, natural disaster, and inner-city turmoil. Within these missions, the wargame specified that a brigade conduct three operations in a megacity—joint forcible entry, major combat, and subsequent stability operations—without unacceptable levels of military or civilian casualties. On top of identifying capabilities gaps in mobility, command, and control, and intelligence, the study found that normal employment concepts and force packages for a brigade were wholly inadequate. In future experiments, game participants will be given 5,000 personnel (the high end of a conventional brigade’s manpower) and asked to design a force specifically for the urban environment.

Training, manning, and equipping a 5,000-soldier force to specialize in urban operations would be a novel concept; no military force in the world has attempted this endeavor despite the well-documented challenges of military operations in dense urban terrain.

The US Army purposely avoids specialization. The Army’s Brigade Combat Team (BCT) structure of light infantry, mechanized infantry, and armored formations are specifically designed for global deployment to conduct any and all missions. While these “general purpose forces” may be designed for major combat operations against near-peer adversaries, they are expected to be able to adapt their force structure to any enemy in any environment.

There are a few exceptions—like the Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment, designed for “large-scale joint forcible entry operations while simultaneously executing surgical special operations raids across the globe.” But the “general purpose” rule holds true for the bulk of Army units. For example, even BCTs that are given special peacetime missions, like those that serve as the opposing force at one of the Army’s three combat training centers or testing modernization concepts and equipment, are required to maintain readiness for wartime missions just like any other unit in the Army. But the degree of specialized training, manning, and equipment required to effectively fight in megacities is incompatible with the “general purpose” approach.

Of course, urban warfare is not exclusively a future phenomenon. Much has been learned from urban battles in recent history: the Siege of Sarajevo (1992–95); the Battle of Mogadishu (1993); Russian operations in Grozny (1994–95 and 1999–2000); US operations in Baghdad (2003) and Fallujah (2004); Lebanese operations in Nahr al-Bared, Lebanon (2007); and the Second Battle of Donetsk (2014–15). But the broad lessons of these cases have yet to truly inform Army training for urban combat, which for most units consists mainly of tactical training (e.g., room clearing drills with four-man teams). The Army would be much better served by the creation of an entire unit dedicated to preparing to operate in dense urban environments, particularly megacities.

The lessons from recent cases of urban warfare and the many studies on the unique requirements posed by operating in a megacity can be used to design such a unit today. Starting from scratch, a unit could be built based on the specific requirements we know a megacity would call for. The unit leadership would need extreme flexibility and authority in manning, staffing, and equipping. The first attempt will inevitably not be right. But it will be a starting point from which to examine remaining unanswered questions: What are the necessary skills of an urban warrior? What is the right mix of enablers and cross-trained soldiers? What are the best movement and maneuver techniques? If megacities represent a unique unit of analysis, how will that inform this new unit’s mission planning?

We know we will be fighting in megacities and that it will pose major new challenges. Successfully meeting these challenges requires bold action—and requires it now. A new unit would serve as the primary learning organization for the Army and the vanguard of development of planning and doctrine for fighting in megacities.

Both recent studies and global trends forecast the unavoidable deployment of military forces to achieve national objectives in megacities. Given this, committing 5,000 soldiers to man the train, and equip a unit designed specifically to prepare for such a deployment would be a bold insurance plan and the right choice.

http://mwi.usma.edu/about-3/